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November 15 proposed date for 50 percent cost-of-living adjustmen payout on St. Maarten


~ To be paid in lump sum ~

PHILIPSBURG–Friday, November 15, is the proposed date for civil servants, teachers and members of the disciplined services to be paid fifty per cent of the 4.6 per cent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that has been allocated in the 2013 budget.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams made the announcement during Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing. She said government was “looking strongly” to make the payment as of this date as promises had been made that the payment would be made once the 2013 budget had been approved. She said the unions and workers were still to be informed. She estimated that the payment probably would cost government some NAf. 4 million.

However, she said the payment would be made in a lump sum and would not be indexed to workers’ salaries. There also is no guarantee that the additional 50 per cent will be included in the 2014 budget.

Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) President Claire Elshot had told reporters on Tuesday that while the union would accept the 50 per cent payment as budgeted, it should be indexed to workers’ salaries and the additional 50 per cent should be included in the 2014 budget.

When asked whether the additional 50 per cent would be included in next year’s budget, Wescot-Williams said there were many things government would like to include in that budget, but the main goal would be to obtain an approved budget, which she said would not be easier than this year’s budget.

She said she was pleased with WITU’s position to accept the 50 per cent budgeted amount for 2011, as this showed that the union “clearly understands” what government had been saying about this matter all along. She said the various ministers would become “quite popular” if government were to index the payment to salaries, but this was not possible.

“And this is what we have been saying to the unions and I am glad to note that the WITU understands and has come out and said this,” she said.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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